Interview with Artisan Beth Reiman

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Ms. Beth Reiman, the talented artisan behind BPR Designs. She kindly answered a few questions for Craftsyble readers. Before we start, I just want to let you know that Ms. Reiman makes the most beautiful glass soap dishes I have ever seen! Enjoy!

Handmade Glass Soap Dishes by BPR Designs. photo courtesy of BPR Designs

1.      When did you start BPR Designs and why? Whose idea was it?

I started my business just about three years ago. I had retired from my previous business career and had been spending even more time doing my glass work.  My house was full and it was either find a way to sell some pieces or get a bigger house. Selling seemed like the best alternative!  Of course I wasn’t sure anyone not in my family would buy anything, but I figured why not give it a try?

2.      Why glass?

I have always loved glass (stained, blown, fused) and decided about 5 years ago to take a fused glass and see where it led me. I was hooked almost immediately!  I love the colors and the textures of the glass and the fact that it is part science and part art!  You never quite know what you will get when you open the kiln, since the glass can be somewhat unpredictable.  I have had plenty of both happy and sad surprises since I started!  And the practical side of me loves that glass can be functional as well as beautiful.

Blue plaid set. Photo courtesy of BPR Designs

3.      What do you like the most about your business?

I love that is has given me the flexibility to still play in my shop, but it makes my “addiction” affordable!

4.      Having your own craft business has pros and cons. Can you please tell us about the cons of having a glass business?

I guess the biggest “con” I have seen is that it takes so much effort to promote the business that it cuts into my creative time. I think that is likely to be true in most art and craft related businesses. That’s why I try to support other artists and crafters when I can, because I think if we help each other we can all get back to our real passion — creating!

5.      Which, in your opinion, was the turning point in your business?

I took an “Etsy Basics” class here, in Portland, and I found it so helpful in condensing some key elements together: you need a great product, great photos, and promotion.  I stopped waiting for people to come find me and just got out in the forums, Facebook and lots of handmade sites and said “here I am!”  Once I started to have some sales and feedback, things just continued to build.

6.      Could you please describe a regular day at BPR Designs?

The morning looks like this most days: 1) Make the coffee!  2) Pop open the kiln.   3) Check Etsy site, e-mail and Facebook for any overnight sales and updates (keep to under an hour).  4) Package up any shipments to go out.  5) Check the light to see if it’s a picture day or not! (I live in Oregon — the winter has lots of “not” days!). If it’s not a good photo day, then I often use that as a “promo” day to network, work on ads, submit to blogs, follow up on FB, etc.

England flag. Photo courtesy of BPR Designs

Afternoons are more like this:  6) Out to the glass studio to work on projects.  7) Edit photos and/or post new listings to Etsy and FB.  8) Check e-mail, Etsy, FB, etc. for updates and convo’s.   9) Catch up on paperwork (I try to stay on top of all my accounting!)   Oh, and I usually sneak in a Pilates class several times a week, as well….(I have a really nice boss — me!)

7.      One of the questions I like to ask a lot: if you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have spent more time on my photos early on to draw people in. When I go back and look at them now I think — how did I think people would want to buy my glass from those photos? And I would have realized sooner how important networking and promotion is. I floundered around for nearly a year before I figured those two things out!

8.      Where can we find your products?

My Etsy shop: http://bprdesigns.etsy.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/BPRDesigns
In Portland: at Local Discoveries on NE Alberta and 16th and at Mag-Big at SE 33rd and Hawthorne

Woven plate. Photo courtesy of BPR Designs.

9.      What’s next? Any plans?

I am always working on new lines and new methods for working my glass projects.  I have a notebook full of experiments to try!!

10.  Any piece of advice for new crafters?

There is no such thing as “your work sells itself.” Of course, you have to have a great product — that is your ticket to play. But no one can buy what they have not seen!  Promotion is part of the process if you want to sell your work. If you don’t spend some energy on it, you will get left behind. You get back what you put into it.

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